Top 8 Vegan Hair Color Options for Guilt Free Hair
Like the clothing we wear or the jewelry we choose, the color of our hair is a way to express our personality and contribute to our own personal style.
A study by Clairol revealed that nearly 75% of American women color their hair, and nearly 88% of women feel their hair has an effect on their sense of self-confidence.
This isn’t a new phenomenon – since ancient times, people have been using dyes from plants to change the color of their hair. Now, with synthetic boxed dyes available, people can color their hair in the comfort of their own home, but with that convenience also comes harsh, toxic chemicals that are usually tested on animals.
Small mammals like mice, rabbits, and guinea pigs are subjected to painful tests. These tests can include skin and eye irritation tests, where chemicals are rubbed into shaved skin or eyes without pain relief, repeated force-feeding studies, or “lethal dose” tests, where the animals are force-fed large amounts of a test chemical to determine how much of that ingredient causes death.
Sadly, many of the animals used in cosmetic testing, such as mice and rats, are not covered under the protection from the Animal Welfare Act.
So what’s a hair-coloring vegan to do?
Luckily, there are many high-quality vegan hair coloring products that don’t rely on cruel animal testing. Even better, these products meet a wide variety of needs, from sensitive scalps to grey hair coverage to fun and funky colors that allow vegans and non-vegans alike to express themselves through their hair.
What Are Vegan Hair Dyes Made From?
Many vegan hair dyes, especially those that are touted as “all natural”, are made from vegetable-based coloring.
For example, henna is a popular all-natural alternative to hair dye, and is made from the powdered leaves of a tropical shrub.
Henna-based dyes are good options for people who want to color their hair and are looking for a safe, gentle, and all-natural alternative.
Vegan Hair Dye List
Best For: Bright Color
Manic Panic’s line of semi-permanent cruelty-free hair color comes in the boldest, brightest colors like Atomic Turquoise and Cotton Candy Pink.
What We Love
The color has staying power, about 8-10 weeks when applied to blonde hair. The colors are vibrant and bold, and Manic Panic offers a huge color range, so you’ll never get bored! Additionally, Manic Panic hair color is safe to use during pregnancy, which is a huge plus.
For the colors to be their most intense, you’ll need to apply this color to bleached or lightened hair. This isn’t the dye for you if you’re looking to turn your dark brown hair tangerine orange, or at least not without having to put some elbow grease in first.
Best For: Delicate Hair, Grey Hair
Like Manic Panic, Artic Fox offers a wide variety of colors, as well as toners for blonde and silver hair. Users note that the color is long-lasting and that it doesn’t bleed onto clothes or pillows.
What We Love
Artic Fox is the ultimate vegan hair dye. It’s advertised as a vegan product, contains no harmful chemicals, conditions hair, and is gentle enough for more frequent use than chemical-based dyes. Best of all, 15% of each product purchased is donated to help fight animal cruelty. Beautiful, bold hair color AND fighting for animal rights? What could be better?
Some people note that, while Artic Fox does not have a chemical smell due to the natural ingredients, it does have a strangely sweet smell. Some reported their hair smelling like bubblegum immediately after use – which could be a good or bad thing, depending on your feelings on bubblegum.
Best For: Sensitive Scalp
EcoColors offers permanent hair colors in 13 natural shades. The entire coloring process is contained in a single kit, and application is easy and efficient.
What We Love
EcoColors dyes are gentle on hair and scalp, and the color comes out looking very natural – no one will be able to tell that it isn’t your natural hair color.
Some users who tried EcoColors on grey hair noted that it did not take. If you’re looking for a dye to use on grey hair, this may have mixed results. It also tends to be slightly more on the expensive side, at around $20 USD per box.
Best For: Hair Toner, Pastel Colors
Smart Beauty offers an extensive line of cruelty-free hair dye options, but what stuck out most was their hair lightener and line of pastel colors.
What We Love
The Smart Beauty Hair Lightener is ammonia free, which makes it not only gentler on your hair and scalp, but takes away that unpleasant chemical aroma that comes with most boxed dyes. The lightener can also lighten dark hair to a very light blond, and tones and conditions during the coloring process to keep hair healthy and strong.
While users are glad to find a color that is cruelty-free in such fun shades of pastels, many do report that the color fades from hair more quickly than other brands.
Best For: Grey Hair
A natural coloring gel free from ammonia and other harsh chemicals, Herbatint is consistently rated high as one of the best vegan hair dyes on the market.
What We Love
The versatility of Herbatint is unparalleled – you can use this dye on grey hair, dark hair, and hair that’s been previously colored, all without fear of strange or poor results. It is gentle on your hair and scalp, and you can mix only what you need instead of wasting an entire bottle.
Due to the inclusion of sulfates and alcohol in this product, it can be very drying, so make sure if you choose this product, you condition well, and avoid if you have damaged or fragile hair.
Caca Brun Henna from LUSH provides subtle color that is gentle and restorative for hair. Henna adds richness and shine to your hair by coating each strand and is a great option for people who want to color their hair, but are hesitant to use chemical dyes.
What We Love
As it comes in a bar that you mix with water, you only need to use as much of the dye as you need at that moment, and save the rest for another application.
This henna produces unpredictable results when used on grey hair – users note that the color takes, but it could be a wildly different color than the expected brown. Avoid using this henna on grey hair unless you’re willing to take a risk.
Best For: Kinky, Dark, Curly Hair
If you have dark, textured hair and have avoided coloring because you don’t want to bleach, the Shea Moisture line is the line for you! Shea Moisture is a gentle, ammonia-free formula that doesn’t result in burning or harsh smells.
What We Love
Shea Moisture provides beautiful color even on dark hair – you can apply it to never-bleached, dark, curly hair, and still come out with beautiful color. The color will be on the darker side if applied to dark hair, but most dark-haired users are amazed at their results – and at not having to damage their hair with harsh bleaches and lighteners. It also can be used to cover greys.
Depending on the color of your natural hair, your results may vary – some people like the deep color, but find it worrisome that it can be difficult to predict exactly what the color will look like once applied to natural hair. If you’re looking for a gorgeous color that you might not necessarily be able to predict, this is a good product for you.
Like the LUSH Henna, Surya Brasil Henna adds a beautiful shine to hair, as it coats each strand of hair with color. When cared for well, it also lasts for about 6-8 weeks.
What We Love
The Surya Brasil Henna is a gentle, effective way to cover grey hairs which, as those with grey hair know, can be hard to come by. The Henna coats each strand of grey beautifully, without streakiness or unpredictable results that can come from dying grey hair at home.
This henna contains some ingredients that are known to cause irritation, like peroxide. It is not considered and “all natural” dye and those with very fragile, breakable hair or sensitive scalps will want to avoid it for the irritation it can cause.
Color with Conscience
People have all different reasons for wanting to color their hair – to cover greys, to express themselves through vibrant color, or just to make a change in their appearance.
Luckily, there appears to be a hair dye to match every need and goal, and quite a few of them are 100% cruelty-free.
As with most cosmetics, this isn’t a comprehensive list of all the vegan hair dye brands on the market. When in doubt, look for the bunny rabbit logo on the packaging that designates a vegan and cruelty-free product.
Just because you want to change the color of your hair doesn’t mean that animals need to be put through pain or suffering. By turning to gentle, natural, plant-based colors, you can get the effect you need while being gentle to animals, all at the same time.